Contributed by Jennifer Haidar, LMSW
My friends and family know that I love to take walks even on the coldest days of the year; however, no matter how much I enjoy my winter walks, every year around this time, I notice my body starts to tense as I anticipate the inevitable. Winter. All summer long, I can walk unencumbered by layers of clothing and let the warmth settle in and soothe me. Summer feels like an easy season.
By late fall, on mornings where frost sprinkles the grass, my first reaction is to resist the changing of the guard. Inside, I start to feel unsettled too. Letting go of the warmth is hard for me. Letting go of ample sunlight is even more difficult. Yet slowly, if I begin to let go of summer and wish the geese well as they fly south, I can start to welcome the crispness in the air and the certainty of winter. I can fall in love with the stillness of winter all over again.
When I am open to the changes around me, I start to notice each season can be full of abundance. For anyone who has experienced a climate with four distinct seasons, they know firsthand how each season totes its own tastes, sights, sounds and experiences.
As we settle into fall and then winter, I also think about other things I resist, beyond the falling temperatures. Perhaps I have been resisting a new friendship that could actually bring more joy into my life. Maybe I have resisted my heart’s prodding to ask a family member for forgiveness because it means I may have been wrong. It may be I am resisting feelings of isolation and sadness because it means I will have to remember a painful memory that tries to tell me lies about myself. Most definitely, I have resisted taking another look at why I feel so angry because it feels safer to say I’m fine.
This fall, I encourage you to ask yourself what it is you have been resisting. Like me, it could be the weather, but I imagine, because you are human, there is more. As you sit with what you resist, try for a moment to let the feelings emerge. It could be hurt. Recognize it. It could be fear. Sit with it. Or maybe it is shame. Ask why it is there and what it needs. As you invite these feelings, listen to their stories and see what you can learn about yourself.
You might be amazed by how much you can discover when you welcome into your life what you have been resisting. You may actually begin to be grateful for these feelings you have resisted, because by opening up to them, you may feel lighter and less burdened, you might learn something new, or you might find a new and better way forward.
At times, the feelings you have resisted may be too difficult to uncover and revisit alone. During these times, you may need the help of a trusted friend, a mental health provider or spiritual director. Remember, you do not have to do the hard work of feeling and healing alone.